When she was alive, my mother got the biggest kick out of her dog, Maude. Maude was a Shih Tzu (the spelling of which I very carefully researched) and while I must admit that Shih Tzus are not necessarily my favorite breed in the world, Mom loved Maude like another child.
They went everywhere together. Well, almost. When Mom planned one of her weekend casino runs, my family and I would “dog-sit,” meaning we provided Maude a door to cry in front of until Mom returned.
As Maude got older, she exhibited many of the same frailities that people do as we age. Namely, she lost her vision. And her hearing. One day, when we were dog-sitting, Maude fell down the stairs. She survived just fine. Later, we all had a good laugh about it. Truth was, Maude hadn’t seen that first step and down she tumbled. Such was life for a 15-year-old lapdog.
I thought Mom sometimes took her coddling of Maude a bit too far — to levels I would never, ever achieve with any animal of mine. Unfortunately, I find myself not only remembering many of Mom’s habits but imitating them. I cannot say that this is an unconcious choice. I miss Mom (and Maude, too, a little), and my Jack Russell terrier is now the beneficiary of my grief.
Leo is not yet a year old, which means he still has a lot of puppy in him. He might grow out of it by the time I am ready to retire (if that ever happens).
I’ve only just begun to notice his biggest similarity to Maude. The other night, I was watching television when either A) a dog was featured in a scene or B) a barking dog could be heard on the soundtrack. Leo immediately began barking his head off. He ran to the screen and barked excitedly, shaking his cottonball tail stub. He got so excited I had to let him out.
I had no idea what was going on until I remembered Mother and Maude. Every time a dog appeared on my mother’s TV, Maude would go nuts and Mom would encourage her. “Look at that bowser!” Mom would cry, and Maude would just go crazy.
Well, Leo does that, too. Last night, a squirming puppy appeared on a commercial and after about a two-minute struggle, I got Leo turned around so that he could see the screen. You would have thought a real live pitbull puppy had materialized in our house. Leo went berserk. He sat upright on his haunches and barked. He ran from room to room looking for the intruder. He either wanted to murder the puppy or teach it to drink from the water bowl. Not sure which.
He has also grown to love toys and, most especially, socks. My own socks are his favorite. I finally realized I needed to go to the dollar store and buy him his very own package of unworn (cheap) socks.
He loves them and we’ll spend many hours playing stretchy-sock. Again, this is something Maude would have loved. The similarities are eerie, or then again, maybe all dogs are basically the same.
One thing he does that I cannot stand is he will sit and stare at me — until I either run him off or get up and go check his food bowl. I am fairly sure he woke me up this morning just by staring at me.
I’ve learned to insert my open palm between his eyes and mine if I’m really caught up in an episode of “Duck Dynasty” or something. Eventually he gets the point and wanders off to find a rope or perhaps a shirt I’ve left on the floor. Oh, yeah, I’ve had to replace three shirts and several towels since adopting Leo.
Mom never had to do that.